The executive hit a budget bill of $ 3.5T, but no details were provided
By Alan Fram and Lisa Mascaro | Associated press
WASHINGTON – The White House and Congressional Democrats have agreed on a “framework” to pay their huge and emerging social and environmental bill, the Main Democrats said on Thursday, but they provided no details and the meaning was not clear.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California announced the development as officials in the Biden administration and Democratic leaders in Congress negotiated behind the scenes the gigantic package of spending and tax initiatives.
Democratic leaders and President Joe Biden have wanted the measure to total some $ 3.5 trillion over 10 years.
But the party was divided over the final size and many details, and there has been no public word that agreements have been reached on any of these crucial issues. Republicans are strongly opposed to the package, and Democrats will only be able to get it through Congress if they limit their defections to three members of the House and none in the Senate.
Schumer and Pelosi’s statements left it unclear whether the administration and congressional negotiators had made any decisions actually narrowing their options to fund the bill, or were simply working from a large menu of options that already existed. . It was also not clear whether the “framework” was a step towards resolving the myriad differences between moderate and progressive grassroots parties that slowed work on the legislation, and there was no initial public indication. that this had been the case.
Highlighting the questions raised by the “framework” announced by the leaders, other senior Democrats have expressed their ignorance on the matter.
When asked if he expects the revenue plan to be shared with him soon, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Told reporters: “If he there is a framework, yes. ” Sanders has been in the midst of talks over the Democrats’ budget plans all year.
“We’ve been through this a million times, so there are many, many approaches to fundraising in a fair and progressive way, and raising at least three and a half trillion dollars. If that’s what the menu is, then nothing particularly new I think, ”Sanders said.
The comments from the leaders also came with the intention of the House to begin examining a separate $ 1,000 billion package of road and other infrastructure projects on Monday. Pelosi agreed to this timeline to appease party moderates who are keen to see this law passed, but are reluctant to back the larger $ 3.5 trillion measure.
Progressives threaten to derail the smallest public works measure, and it’s unclear whether Democrats can push it through the tightly divided House. To convince progressives and ensure that both bills can pass, Democratic leaders are trying to reach agreement on a final version of the massive social and environmental bill that moderates would support.
This bill incorporates much of Biden’s national agenda. It includes a radical overhaul of federal taxes and spending to do what the president sees as overdue investments in health care, family services and efforts to fight climate change.
The measure would impose tax hikes on businesses and wealthy Americans earning more than $ 400,000 a year and reinvest that money in federal programs for young and old, as well as investments to fight climate change.
“The White House, House and Senate have come to an agreement on a framework that will pay for any final deal negotiated,” Schumer told reporters at a press conference with Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Minutes later, Schumer told reporters: “It’s a menu of options, and it will pay for whatever the investment deal ends up with.”
Pelosi said: “What we have said is that the House, the Senate and the White House have come to an agreement on how we can move forward so as to pay for it.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the framework “menu and options” and said it represented progress. “The next step is to have a discussion with a range of members about the way forward,” she said.
Moderate Democrats, especially Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have called for the $ 3.5 trillion price tag to be reduced.
Democrats have offered to pay for the measure primarily with tax increases on the rich and on businesses. But lawmakers disagree on the details of those levies, and other disputes remain over initiatives to boost healthcare, climate change and other proposals.
Pelosi and Schumer spoke to reporters a day after Biden met with more than a dozen top Democrats in a bid to narrow their differences.
“The president has given us a way, a better view for our country,” Pelosi said. “We intend to stay the course and pass the bill as soon as possible.”
In total, more than 20 lawmakers were invited to speak with Biden, moderates and progressives in separate meetings extending into the evening, making their best points, Manchin and Sinema among them.
Despite the differences, many Democrats say they expect the end product to align with Biden’s larger vision and ultimately have strong party support, even if that version is adjusted or scaled back.
But Representative Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Leader of the centrist Blue Dog caucus, said the big bill will take longer. “I’m not sure we’re at a point of closure just yet,” she said.
Meanwhile, the House and Senate have stalled on a separate plan to maintain government funding beyond fiscal year-end Sept. 30 and suspend the federal debt limit to avoid a closure and a devastating payment default from the United States. Senate Republicans refuse to support the bill passed by the House.
The Democratic-led House passed the financing and debt measure on Tuesday night, but Republicans are refusing to support the Senate, despite the risk of triggering a budget crisis.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has said that since Democrats control the White House and Congress, it is their problem to find the votes – although he has relied on bipartisan cooperation to approve the restraint measures of debt when the Republicans were in charge.
But in the 50-50 Senate, Democrats will struggle to find 10 Republicans to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome an obstruction. Other options for trying to pass the debt ceiling package could be procedurally difficult.
Associated Press editors Martin Crutsinger, Darlene Superville, Brian Slodysko, and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.